Let’s Talk About It

Kids outgrow habits and behaviors as part of the development process. Baby talk, thumb sucking, imaginary friends and stuffed animals are things that generally fade into our past as we grow into adolescence and adulthood.

And while many of these behaviors do go by the wayside, one frequently sticks around. Hardly anyone even talks about it because it can be embarrassing to discuss — even with your doctor.

This behavior is bedwetting.

We’re not just talking about children in their potty-training years wetting the bed; we’re talking about adults and children past the age of potty training.

Why are we talking about it as dentists? One reason is that it’s a very prevalent problem in the United States, affecting 5 million Americans over 18 and 15 percent of children.

Another reason is that, for many individuals, bedwetting is a consequence of a sleep-breathing disorder.

Causes of Bedwetting

Sleep-related breathing disorders. As we mentioned, in many cases, sleep-disordered breathing can contribute to nighttime bedwetting. This is because when you are living with a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, your body never gets to the level of sleep in which your hormones are regulated. You may be wondering how this matters to your bladder, but we’re getting there.

When you are unable to get to the level of sleep in which your hormones are regulated, your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and bladder functions can all go haywire. In particular, the hormone atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), which is responsible for increased urine production and sodium excretion, increases. At the same time, the hormone that tells your bladder to stop producing urine (known as an antidiuretic hormone) decreases.

With urine production hormone going up and the levels of antidiuretic hormone going down, your bladder doesn’t really know what to do, and the result is wetting the bed.

Genetics. Your genes play a considerable role in your health. So if someone else in your family struggled with adult bedwetting, you or your child might also have the issue. Some research studies have shown that if both your parents experience nighttime enuresis (the medical term for nighttime bedwetting), you have an almost 80 percent chance of wetting the bed, too. If only one of your parents has the condition, your chances of wetting the bed as an adult are still around 40 percent.

Capacity. One other factor in adult bedwetting is bladder capacity. This doesn’t mean that your bladder is smaller than it should be now; it means that it cannot hold as much urine, causing you to wet the bed.

Overactivity of the bladder. Many people struggle with an overactive bladder during the day and wet the bed at night as a result. If you’re dealing with an overactive bladder, we recommend avoiding things that can cause bladder irritation, including alcohol and caffeine. We also recommend that you talk to your doctor about treatment.

UTIs. If you frequently struggle with urinary tract infections, you may also find that you temporarily wet the bed when you’re dealing with one.

Medications. Some medications, including those used to treat depression, can increase the chances of nighttime bedwetting.

Another health issue. For women, pelvic organ prolapse can cause nighttime bedwetting, and prostate conditions in men can also factor in nighttime enuresis.

The Signs of a Sleep Breathing Disorder

If you’re living with a sleep breathing disorder, you may not realize it even as you struggle with adult bedwetting. Sleep breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, cause your sleep to be fragmented due to frequent interruptions in your breathing while you sleep.

As we mentioned, one of the consequences of sleep breathing disorders is that your hormones are not regulated. Other effects of OSAs and other sleep breathing problems include:

  • Daytime fatigue/feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings, depression and anxiety
  • High blood pressure and cardiovascular problems
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome
  • Complications with medications
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Changes to libido

How We Can Help

Did you know that dentists often diagnose OSA or other sleep breathing disorders? In addition to giving you a diagnosis, we can help you get a restful night’s sleep by using custom-made oral appliances that can help keep your airway open at night.

The Signs of OSA

The signs of OSA and sleep breathing disorders in general include:

  • Snoring and gasping for breath during sleep
  • Coughing and choking while asleep
  • Cessation of breathing during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Nightmares and sleepwalking
  • Damage to the teeth caused by tooth grinding or clenching
  • Mouth breathing
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Headache

If you’re struggling with nighttime bedwetting or a sleep breathing disorder, call us to schedule a consultation now. We can help get you to dry nights!